I'm trying to translate a Mencius quote (for googleability: 穷则独善其身,达则兼济天下) to English. It roughly translates "when you are poor, commit to your own welfare; when you are prosperous, commit to the welfare of the world". How can this expression be improved to give a "golden sentence" feel to it?


  • Aside from the rough translation, what are your thoughts so far? What would make it a "golden sentence"? Give examples of other "golden sentences". – Victor Bazarov Nov 1 '15 at 14:42

"When you are struggling, take care of yourself; when you are prosperous, take care of the world."

I like struggling/prosperous better than poor/rich. Struggling/prosperous could refer to a farmer with ample harvest. Poor/rich strongly implies monetary wealth.

when you are struggling / commit to your own welfare

The two phrases just don't seem to balance. "when you are struggling" is very simple wording but "commit to your own welfare" sounds more educated.

  • "A farmer with ample harvest": is he prosperous or struggling? I am uncertain either way. One without the means to collect and/or store it all could still be called "struggling"... – Victor Bazarov Nov 1 '15 at 14:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.